The human mind is endlessly fascinating and I never tire of learning about its various quirks and mazes. I just wish I didn’t have to live in one all the time.
Geologists don’t have to live in caves, and ichthyologists don’t have to publish their papers from within the bellies of giant sharks. All I want is the same kind of distance they and people in so many other scientific fields enjoy.
My latest interesting observation is that my brain has arbitrarily decided to separate all attempts to fall asleep into “sleep mode” and “nap mode”.
Any attempt to fall asleep after 1 AM is “sleep mode”. In sleep mode I want to sleep for about 8 or 9 hours, and when I wake up I’m still pretty groggy and could easily sleep for 2 or 3 more if I let myself.
Any attempt to fall asleep before 1 AM is “nap mode”. In nap mode I want to sleep for about 3 or 4 hours, and when I wake up I feel incredibly refreshed and alert (I also feel a weird but pleasant tightness in my abdomen, which I relate not because I expect anyone to understand it but just in case someone else has had the same experience).
This has somewhat interfered with my attempts to be virtuous. I think “I will stop going to bed so late, and introduce myself to a normal bed-time so I can get stuff done bright and early in the morning. And so I go to sleep at 11 PM. And then I wake up at 3 AM more alert and refreshed than I’ve been in weeks. And then by noon my body is like “Hey, so, I just noticed you only got four hours of sleep last night, I think I’m going to crash and be miserable for the rest of the day.” And then I have to stay up until after 1 AM, or else the cycle repeats itself and I get my sleep schedule completely screwed up.
This seems completely incompatible with working a job that has normal hours, let alone a job that starts unusually early. I survived medical school because my body was grudgingly willing to adjust downward to about 11:30 PM for its “sleep mode start time” after weeks of misery, but that’s still not optimal.
Melatonin seems to shift me further into nap mode, which is the opposite of what I hoped it would do. I know all about f.lux and “sleep hygiene” and progressive muscle relaxation and things along those lines, and to the degree that they work they promote sleep for me but don’t favor one mode over the other. I’ve tried just lying in bed after waking up from “nap mode” and after three hours just lying there I usually think “Okay, this is dumb” and count that as a failed experiment.
Has anyone else has a similar experience? If so, has anyone else been able to solve it?